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And the Pow Wow goes on



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In the spirit of friendship... participants in the Native American Gathering in Rumney this weekend invite members of the public to join them in the Sacred Circle, for dances of fellowship and fun. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011
RUMNEY—There is a bend in the Asquamchumauke where Native Americans from around our local region have found refuge and comfort, in a quiet, sprawling meadow, nestled in the embrace of rugged mountains, under the open skies of every season. It is a very special place.

This past weekend, dozens of Native Americans from all around New England and beyond gathered together there to enjoy one another's company, to share stories, honor the ancestors, sing, drum, pray, teach, learn, and be enriched by one another's history and personal experience. It was a blessed event.

But it almost didn't happen.

When Tropical Storm Irene blew into town a couple of weeks ago, it left so many of us devastated. Businesses and homes were flooded out, and the cleanup has taken a tremendous amount of our time and resources in the aftermath.

Unfortunately, the Riverbrook Campground, which annually hosts the Chief Wolf Spirit Native Gathering in Rumney in September, was one of the hardest hit locations during the storm. In the days and weeks since the disaster, Chief Wolf Spirit and his many friends have been hard a work clearing the campground of debris and dirt that accumulated on the meadows when the river, often known as the Baker, flooded the entire campground with roiling brown water.

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As a highlight of the weekend Native American Gathering, attendees enjoyed the music of David Searching Owl and Janet Quiet Dove, who performed many of their original acoustic guitar, flute, and blues harmonica pieces that are included on their newly released CD from Sacred Winds Music, entitled “Just Blowing Smoke.” (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
Many at the Riverbrook RV Park lost a great deal in the flood disaster. The local Native American community suffered the loss of much of the small village that had been arduously constructed along the banks of the river, although one wikiup remains. But by the time this weekend's Pow Wow got underway on Friday evening, the healing was underway, assisted by the help of human hands and the spirit of determination that was clearly in evidence all weekend long.

On Saturday afternoon, Chief Wolf Spirit took a very brief respite from all the preparations and responsibilities. Relaxing for a moment or two in a lawn chair under a canopy adjacent to the Sacred Circle, he reflected on the disaster that touched so many people, and hoped that the ceremonies and festivities of the Pow Wow would contribute to the process of restoring everyone's spirit.

It was a seasonably warm, sunny afternoon under blue skies, with puffy white clouds floating overhead, and as attendees approached the Pow Wow from across the vast expanse of dusty meadow, the colorful ceremonial flags around the Sacred Circle billowed beautifully in the slight breeze. It was peaceful and quiet in that very special moment.

Later in the afternoon, children were invited to join their elders around the Sacred Earth Heart Drum, learning to beat in unison with the pounding rhythms of their hearts. It was an exciting moment, filled with promise and energy. Not long afterwards, the were laughing and scurrying around the Circle during a momentary pause in the drumming during the traditional "Candy Dance," when they are allowed to try to pick up as many pieces of candy as they can and make it out of the Circle with their cache before the music resumes... challenging their physical speed and prowess, and also their discipline and self control. Not to worry, though; when the dance is over, there is plenty of extra to share with everyone.

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Teaching about culture is one centrally important dimension of the PowWow. Young people enjoy a lesson in drumming with the Sacred Earth (Family) Heart Drum during events in Rumney this past weekend. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
As always, members of the public were welcomed warmly to the Pow Wow during the afternoon portions of the events on Saturday and Sunday. Many local families took the opportunity to attend the event, accept the hospitality and friendship offered, and learn more about Native culture and history. Proceeds from the event help to benefit the Chief Wolf Spirit Native American Scholarship fund, which extends assistance to young people hoping to pursue vocational training and higher education. Scholarship funds have been used for such things as purchasing computers for students whose families may not have been otherwise able to afford the expensive equipment that is so critical to success in so many fields.

A highlight of the weekend Gathering was an open air concert on Saturday evening, featuring the acoustic guitar, traditional flute, and blues harmonica of the acclaimed duo known widely as Owl and Dove. David Searching Owl and Janet Quiet Dove were both mesmerizing and entertaining as they offered up their varied repertoire of original compositions, from sweet and sentimental instrumentals, to humorous folks songs, to sizzling blues ballads. Most of the pieces they performed can be heard on their recently released CD from Sacred Winds Music in Newmarket, named "Just Blowing Smoke," after the title track. They kindly and generously donated a collection of all five of their CD's to be auctioned off to raise money for the Chief Wolf Spirit Scholarship Fund.

Financial contributions are welcome at any time. For more information about the Chief Wolf Spirit Scholarship Fund, visit www.wolfspiritnh.org.

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